THE BRAINIAC (1961) Reviews and overview

 

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The Brainiac is a 1961 Mexican horror feature film directed by Chano Urueta (The WitchThe Living Head; Blue Demon vs. the Satanic Power) from a screenplay written by Federico Curiel, Adolfo López Portillo and Antonio Orellana. Original title: El barón del terror (translation: “The Baron of Terror”). Released in 1962.

The film stars producer Abel Salazar and Germán Robles as well as future directors René Cardona and Federico Curiel.

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1661, Mexico City: Baron Vitelius of Estara is condemned by the Inquisition and sentenced to be burned at the stake. As this sentence is carried out, the Baron promises that he will return with the next passage of a comet, and slay the descendants of his accusers.

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In 1961, the promised comet does indeed return, carrying with it Baron Vitelius, who takes advantage of his considerable abilities as a sorcerer to carry out his threat: he is able to change at will into the hairy monster of the title in order to suck out the brains of his victims with a long forked tongue; furthermore, he has strong hypnotic capabilities and is able to render his enemies motionless or force them to act against their wills.

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Reviews:

“With a profound title that’s not easily forgotten, soundstage-bound sets, awkwardly hilarious dubbing, and an outrageous monster (with a head that pulsates!) that’s just as memorable as anything Paul Blaisdell created for AIP in the 1950s, The Brainiac is one of the most popular of the Mexican monster romps (if not the most popular).” DVD Drive-In

“Alternately unnerving and hysterical, The Brainiac is a genuinely surreal experience, just as one might expect from director Chano Ureta (who also helmed the equally worthwhile The Witch’s Mirror). Nowhere even close to a “good” film, The Brainiac is an acquired taste but well worth the effort.” Mondo Digital

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“Words cannot describe, nor cause one to fully  appreciate the gleeful insanity on display here. It’s because of movies like this that the word ‘cult’ was coined. You’ll see the craziest cinematic monster ever created and some priceless performances amidst  scenes of brain slurping and cops with flame throwers.” Cool @ss Cinema

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“Chances are the monster suit will steal the show to such an extent that you won’t even notice all the other stuff that’s f*cked up about the film at first, and that’s entirely understandable. Not only is this a creature costume that no sane man would ever devise, the filmmakers have such tremendous misplaced pride in it that they brazenly defy the conventional wisdom about keeping it mostly offscreen until the last couple of reels.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Without question, The Brainiac epitomises virtually everything that a bad-film connoisseur would want: ineffective special effects, glaring technical errors, histrionic acting, and obvious budget limitations, all of which are augmented (or compounded) by Murray’s brand of unnatural and often unintentionally-hilarious dubbed dialogue.” Doyle Green, Mexploitation Cinema

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“The perverse script is filmed rather primitively, but the mischievous enthusiasm with which the scenarist concocted the outrageous tale does communicate itself.” Phil Hardy (editor), The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror

“Like other classic Mexican sci-fi horror films (Ship of Monsters most notably) Brainiac is alternately confusing, disturbing, and hilarious. It’s certainly never boring. For me, it was akin to Robot Monster in how it feels eerily serious even at its most ridiculous.” David Elroy Goldweber, Claws & Saucers

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Cast and characters:

Abel Salazar … Baron Vitelius d’Estera
Ariadne Welter … Chica asesinada en restaurant / Bar girl
David Silva … Comandante / lead detective
Germán Robles … Indalecio Pantoja / Sebastián de Pantoja
Luis Aragón … Prof. Saturnino Millán
Mauricio Garcés … Médico forense / Forensic surgeon
Ofelia Guilmáin … Señora Meneses
René Cardona … Baltasar de Meneses / Luis Meneses
Rubén Rojo … Reynaldo Miranda / Marcos Miranda
Carlos Nieto … Lic. Francisco Coria
Carlota Solares … Espectadora hoguera / Townswoman
Federico Curiel … Detective
Magda Donato … Doña Mariquita / Townswoman
Magda Urvizu … Ana Luisa del Vivar (as Magda Urbizu)
Miguel Brillas … Bibliotecario
Rosa María Gallardo … Victoria Contreras (as Rosa Ma. Gallardo)
Roxana Bellini … María de Pantoja
Susana Cora … Prostituta asesinada / Prostitute
Ricardo Adalid … Espectador hoguera (uncredited)
Marco Antonio Arzate … Álvaro de Contreras (uncredited)
Queta Carrasco … Invitada a fiesta (uncredited)
Felipe de Flores … Motorista asesinado / first victim (uncredited)
Francisco Reiguera … Mayordomo / Vitelius’ Butler (uncredited)
Carlos Robles Gil … Espectador hoguera (uncredited)
Víctor Velázquez … Roberto, dueño restaurant / bar owner (uncredited)

Release:

In 1963, the film was distributed in the United States by Clasa-Mohme Inc. in its original, Spanish-language-only form, for exhibition in Spanish-speaking American communities’ cinemas.

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In 1964, Florida-based entrepreneur K. Gordon Murray acquired rights to dub the film into American English and distribute it in the United States via his Trans-International Films Inc. firm. This version played largely in smaller, Southern towns and at drive-ins, but got wider American exposure on television in the early 1980s, via the USA Cable Network to which Murray syndicated his library of dubbed Mexican horror, sci-fi and fantasy films as a package deal.

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Artwork courtesy of Richard Sala. Visit his Tumblr blog

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